Dagnamnit!

I was doing a lot of watering today. Apparently it dissolved the glue holding my boot together. All of a sudden, my boot was flapping. I was at a garden in the middle of nowhere and had no shoes to change into. Fortunately, a colleague had a spare hairband I could wrap around it. And then I had to limp home on the train, trying to not lose the sole on my shoe altogether.

Other news, I was on an escalator with some teenagers this morning and one of them pressed the emergency stop button. It wasn’t much of an emergency stop, more of a carry on for thirty seconds then trundle to a halt button. The teenagers ran off, and the five staff who all came out running a moment later paid no attention to me, but started shouting into their radios about where the kids had gone. So if you want to get away with pressing the red button, make sure there are some teenagers around who’ll get the blame.

And those are the most interesting things about my day! How about you?

Trod in a bees’ nest!

IMG_20200713_134654

This is not as melodramatic as it may sound.

I was dead heading roses (does any gardener actually like roses? They’re shitty, fussy, spiky plants) and I stepped back and felt my foot slip into a slight hole. I walked back and looked down to see twenty or so bees come tumbling out of the hole. I was ready to run, ready for the stings, but nothing.

None of them stung me. Not a one!

They were a bit smaller than usual honey bees. At first I thought they might be hover flies, which mimic wasps, but have no sting, but they were too fluffy. My boss reckoned they might be leaf-cutter bees, which are awesome fellas.

In fact I have a theory that now many of the usual bee species are becoming extinct, leaf cutter bees (and other less common ones) are increasing in numbers to fill the space. Look out for small , neat semi-circular holes missing in leaves – that’s the leaf cutter bee.

OR alternatively, I am now Queen of the bees and none shall sting me. It is true I once stood in a swarm of killer bees (I think) and didn’t get stung. Unfortunately everything else is still attacking me and a colleague asked if I’d been bitten by a wolf because of the huge red and purple bruise that came up on my leg after getting stung by something that wasn’t a bee.

And these are the kind of rambling thoughts that gardeners have.

In other news: no sign of evil pea seedlings yet.

Have you been stung much this year?

What can I summon?

Found this in one of the gardens. It looked like someone had made a bit of a camp in between some trees and this was left in the middle. I’m not sure what it is, but it moves in an out like a pump and makes a whistly sound sometimes. I thought it might be a bird caller, but much of the time it doesn’t make a bird call noise at all, more like a wheezy gasp. Could it be a wheezy-smoker caller? After all, smokers have become pretty unpopular these days. My colleague Jessica has to walk out of sight of her block of flats to have a cigarette or her neighbours complain. Which is ironic because apparently they’ve had a number of dawn drug raids, but they still consider her to be the troublemaker to be kept at a distance.

Anyway, maybe the wheezy-smoker caller is to round up all the smokers and take them to a safe place far from where anyone else might be breathing. Harsh, I know. I’m glad I have it now and the smokers are safe.

And then, I found this too:

IMG_20200716_164841

I’m less confused by what this is. I reckon it’s the kind of thing a serious hiker would have. It has a thermometre on one side and a compass on the other. I’m assuming a mountain guide owned it as they led a troop of thrill seekers through the treacherous mountains of London. I only hope our plucky guide still has their machete and crampons. It’s a bleak world out there, but presumably they’ve been trained in the art of finding their way by tube.

Do you think if  I stand in Trafalgar Square tomorrow and blow it I’ll get a group of tourists to guide? And what will come if I blow the whistle and use the wheezy smoker caller at the same time?

This is who she is!

statue with a weary unimpressed expression

So I posted a picture of this statue a few days ago. She was looking down on me with a withering gaze while I was squirting toxic plant juice in my eye. I was trying to work out what she was holding (it’s a kitten, definitely) and Calmgrove wondered who she actually was and if she was holding an owl (clearly not, because it’s a kitten). And now I know, she’s one of the three Graces (you can see part of the face of another one on the left.)

The number of Graces varied in different legends, but usually there were three: Aglaia (Brightness), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness), and Thalia (Bloom). They are said to be daughters of Zeus and Hera (or Eurynome, daughter of Oceanus) or of Helios and Aegle, a daughter of Zeus.

From www.Britannica.com

To try and work out which particular Grace this is and whether she is, in fact, holding a kitten, (I mean, she is, I’m simply being polite). I’ve had a look at a few other pictures and statues. It’s actually pretty rare for them to wear clothes, although they often have a bit of draped material.

Here’s what the Louvre museum thinks:

Eternally young and lovely, they represented charm, beauty, and human creativity, and were depicted naked, originally holding attributes such as apples, roses, and sprigs of myrtle.

From other statues they only seem interested in draping over each other and gazing into each other eyes – which is all very romantic, but not very productive for people who represent creativity. However, the Grace in my picture has defied all their expectations: she’s got dressed, clearly has bigger and more tragic things on her mind than looking pretty and she’s holding a kitten. I think this statue must represent the three Graces once they’ve grown out their frolicking about naked stage. These days Aglaia (Brightness) works in a food bank and plays the drums, Euphrosyne (Joyfulness) volunteers at Samaritans and does chainsaw sculptures, and Thalia (Bloom) is, of course, a gardener who takes in homeless kittens. Which answers all my questions.

Covidworld

So, I’m back at work and it’s great to see everyone again and be outside tackling some plants.

It’s all quite odd though, everything is not quite the same, little details have shifted. I’ll get some pictures tomorrow. It’s as if someone gave all of London a makeover. And then almost all Londoners have changed too. We hide our faces. We aren’t rushing, instead we keep our distance. No more stand on the right, walk on the left on escalators, now everybody stands. And there are police everywhere.

At work, my colleagues are just like they always were – cheery, lovable oddballs. But with longer hair. The guys have either slicked back styles or new wavy locks.

I feel like this is a puny blog, so here is a fella I read about this morning, the monkey slug caterpillar, Phobetron. They aren’t anything to do with monkeys or slugs, but they are caterpillars. Aren’t they incredible?

Click on this to go to the site I nicked it from
Definitely click on this photo to see more photos from the Maryland Biodiversity Project

IMG_20190507_065440

Just to sum up what everyone has worked out about the advert since it seems that it did make some sense if you’re more knowledgeable about markets, children’s books and life than me.

Calmgrove  – the bear is Paddington who was from darkest Peru and could talk. I suspect this is an invoke sweet things trick to mask their devilish intent.

Jasper Hoogendam – Winnie the Pooh was originally from Winniepeg, hence the name. Not in the ad, but still interesting.

Colin McQueen – in rugby the Lions have a coach from New Zealand (kiwi) and the cheeky chicken refers to ‘having a cheeky Nandos’. I have no idea what either has to do with banks.

Shaily Agrawal/ – pointed out that bear is a market term for someone who takes risks. I don’t really want my bank to take risks, because that’s what caused the economic crash last time. Maybe that’s the subliminal bit, they rename recklessness as ‘open mindedness’ and then throw in the bear.

I, after a foolishly long time, worked out that being shut on bank holidays is what banks do.

So to translate

Keep an open mind because being open minded has opened doors to Paddington Bear, who’s secretly a risk-taking banker; rugby coaches from New Zealand; and a cheeky Nandos. Now is not the time to batten down the hatches, it’s time to stay open, except when we’re shut. Because we are not an island, well we are, all the surrounding water makes that clear, but people can still visit, which is nice. And the world is big, and it has bears and lions, unlike the UK which only just got bears and has no lions to speak of.

But what are you talking about ?

IMG_20190507_065440

I look at this advert every morning while waiting for the train, but it’s nonsense, isn’t it? Can anyone give me a hand? Does it have a subliminal message? Or had they run out of ideas so decided to blurt out any old bollocks?

It’s for the bank HSBC. Maybe it’s like adverts for alcohol – they aren’t allowed to say a highly toxic product is nice, so they go all surreal instead. Or maybe they feel such contempt for the public that they believe we’ll be humbled by whatever they say.

The text:

Keep an open mind because being open minded has opened doors to talking bears from darkest Peru Kiwis who can coach lions and Portuguese chicken that’s cheeky. Now is not the time to batten down the hatches, it’s time to stay open. Except on bank holidays. Because we are not an island we are part of something far far bigger.

Thoughts that have occurred to my morning addled brain as I stare across the tracks…

  • Is Peru dark?
  • I like to think I’m open minded, when am I going to open a door to a talking bear?
  • Is this about a circus?
  • If that’s a Brexit reference, it’s only going to annoy people.
  • Most things open on bank holidays now. Are they thinking of decades ago?
  • Is this supposed to make me want to open a bank account? It doesn’t.

So anyone got any ideas as to what this might be on about? Does it make you want to switch to HSBC?

What in the name of all hairy-yuk is this?

trigger-warning

We were all walking to the shed this morning to get tooled up, when we spotted the deceased animal below. It’s not uncommon to find dead things around, but we can usually work out what they are, even if they’ve been chewed. But this? What is this? I’m sure I can see five feet of various sizes, but no head. Is it a baby bird knocked out of a nest for being a mutant? Nature is harsh.

IMG_20190708_081738

In our fancy new messroom, we have a fancy new clock. It connects to a satellite so that the time can be always super accurate. Everybody has avoided setting it because it looks too complicated, however, today Mateo decided to go for it. He put the battery in and moved the hands round to the correct time. The clock disagreed (presumably after connecting to the satellite) and moved the hands back  round to the wrong time. He tried again. Again the clock took control. By his fourth attempt we were all watching enthralled (breaks can be dull) cheering as he set the right time, groaning and howling as the clock undid his work with its sophisticated wizardry. Finally he resorted to the instructions.

‘It says I only need to press this for 3 seconds and that connects it to the satellite. It will move the hands to twelve first, and then to the correct time,’ said Mateo, doubtfully. But he did it and then the hands began to move. They moved to twelve and for a moment we thought this was it, fancy clock knew what it was doing, it reached twelve thirty, the right time, but then kept on going. Finally landing on a time five hours and thirteen minutes out. We had to take the clock off Mateo to stop its destruction.

It is now hanging on the wall, telling us lies, but we hope since it’s closer to the satellite up there, it will figure things out eventually. This is the problem as our technology gets cleverer than us, it gets defiant, it sneers at our puny desires to know the time. It wants to explore possibilities, experiment, and ultimately destroy us all with lasers. Satellite connected lasers.

 

Ah look at all the lonely people tum te tum te tum te tum te tum te

IMG_20190330_102948

“I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people-
from a distance.”
― Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

Word of the day: Farrago – a confused mass of objects or people, any disordered mixture

I’ve been spending the week paying attention to my fellow passengers on the morning train. I only see for them for a short time each day, when at my most befuddled and slow, and when everyone is sitting silently, also befuddled and slow. But over the months, I’ve noticed little dramas play out and the fascinating oddballs become apparent (this isn’t an insult by the way, I am definitely an oddball, oddballs are my people.)

For example, there are the twins, two young men who aren’t twins, but travel together with the same hairstyle and clothes and rucksack. When one gets a haircut, the other gets the same a few days later; when one starts wearing shorts the other does the next day. They get off at the same station and walk side by side, hands in pockets, the same loping walk. But they never speak to each other. They don’t sit together or acknowledge each other in any way. My conclusion is that either: they are psychic, although I’d assume they’d start wearing the shorts on the same day. OR: one is stalking, following and copying the other who doesn’t know how to get rid of him. One day I’m expecting a punch up.

Then there’s the large, middle-aged woman who wears biker boots with spikes on them, a pink streak in her hair and huge colourful jackets. I love her. She’s my hero.

Then, sometimes, there is the angry staring man.

London’s many stone babies

smaller

Somehow, Hamoudi has now got Jinjing into the drumming. This morning they were emptying out all the kitchen cupboards trying to find makeshift maracas (rice in tupperware) drums of different sounds (buckets, saucepans and the bin) and cymbals (they hadn’t figured this one out, but mugs, metal spoons and a frying pan hanging on the wall were all possible candidates.)

This led to Neville being annoyed and slamming doors, playing his music loudly (Miley Cyrus???) and singing.

So I ran off to central London.

Wasn’t sure where I was going, but ended up at Bank, first spotting this weird doodah on top of a building. Couldn’t get any closer to work out what it is. A machine anteater? A caterpillar tank? An alien invasion happening very slowly – like Tripods, but not tripod shaped? Any ideas?

IMG_20190615_090021thing

I know this doesn’t help much. But, what the fuck?

Anyway, then St Paul’s appeared.

IMG_20190615_090259

One thing I love about London is there is no uniformity to the buildings. Shiny new chrome can be next to a dome over 1,400 years old.

St Paul’s, like many English buildings, is filled with statues of toddlers and babies, which suddenly occurred to me is a bit weird.

IMG_20190615_091151

Especially when so many don’t look very happy.

IMG_20190615_091444

The carvings below were especially disturbing to me, since they seem to show two winged babies being whispered to by evil ghost babies.

IMG_20190615_090714

Look!

creepy

I know some of you (Calmgrove?) are knowledgeable about old buildings, so maybe someone can tell me a reason.

The din had calmed down by the time I got home. Hamoudi had a plan about going busking with their makeshift drum kit. I suggested they got Neville to sing with them and he was quite enthusiastic. Sorry London.